Everyone knows the old saying: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
But this year, let’s replace it with our own saying: Chocolate makes the heart healthier!
February is Heart Health Month, and as everyone knows, this Thursday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Along with love, chocolate could be the best gift you get your significant other this year!
Study after study has shown protective effects from eating dark chocolate made of at least 60-70% cocoa. Some of the benefits include
Other great Valentine’s Day foods include red wine, which is associated with boosting good cholesterol and lowering blood sugar, and berries, such as strawberries and raspberries, which provide beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
The final major heart healthy ingredient for Valentine’s Day is love!
It sounds sappy, but several studies have found that love can trigger hormones that reduce stress and anxiety. Happily married couples have better blood pressure than single adults. (On the flip side, unhappily married couples have higher blood pressure than either of those groups.) Raising kids may also lower blood pressure, particularly in women.
But singletons need not despair! Studies of self-help groups show that the platonic love that comes with a close support network can also improve wellbeing. Another study shows that receiving texts from friends and loved ones can improve relationships and communication (which we can infer improves happiness as well).
So this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to send your loved ones a thoughtful text, spend some time with them, and share in some chocolate-covered strawberries and wine. Keep your heart healthy and happy at the same time!